12 Months in Anafi
The ship sails and standing on the stern of the ship you say farewell to Anafi which left you with unique emotions and vivid memories. Summer friends bid you farewell you with handkerchiefs, thus sealing the promise to meet again soon.
Immersed in your daily life and in the intense rhythms of the city you look back… The phone rings and a friend from the island takes you there again .. He did not leave, he chose to stay. And you wonder what he is doing…
And yet life on the island has its own flow…
Autumn picks up the baton from summer with the festival of Panagia Kalamiotissa still attracting people. The “usual suspects” of the island return for a last dive in the warm waters of the Aegean and a walk on the lanes. The sun creates unique colors during the day. The intense rhythms of the summer slow down. The time of harvest has arrived. The barrels come out and the wine pressing is the next opportunity for celebration. October has arrived … and while the islanders are waiting for the first rains to collect snails, the weather is holding up well. The shops are starting to close and Anafiotes are planning their vacation now. They need rest. In the afternoon at cafeterias, raki stirs up the hunters’ conversations.
The weather gets cold in November and the fishermen take the boats ashore. Rags are spread and each family harvests the olives to produce the olive oil of the year. In the olive press, the aroma of the olive is mixed with that of raki. The women of the island meet in the countryside to gather herbs, mainly “provatses” (lambseed). They also collect saffron, the cleansing of which is really a “ritual”, another opportunity for festing, while the men play cards. The “Saints” of the countryside will gather the villagers in the chapels for another feast. The islanders are preparing to honor its patron saint, Ai-Nikolas, and the cultural association is organizing the ceremonial feast.
Christmas are approaching. The castle and the squares will be decorated, along with the houses that will be left open to welcome the New Year. The alleys are flooded with “honey” smells of food and kid’s voices erupt chanting Christmas carols. The villagers will head down to the harbor, the waters are sanctified and the few brave ones dive to catch the Cross. The oldest chapel, of Agios Antonios, invites the residents for another meeting in a wonderful location. Then, the first masquerades will come out.
January… rain and cold but the Alkyon days illuminate the island. Opportunity for another trip to the countryside now that the land generously gives asparagus, stingrays, radishes and bulbs. Nature is “deceived” by waiting for spring but the rainiest month has come.
The word around the villageres in February is about the dam and whether it is time to grow potatoes, while the beekeepers count the losses of winter. The cultural association takes care of the entertainment of the residents on Carnival Sunday and on Shrove Monday the kites color the sky.
March has arrived and the grass is replaced by the precious herbs that colorize the nature’s pallet. The viticulturists take care of the vines and the beekeepers look for the first swarms of bees.
The island is preparing to welcome the first visitors who arrive to explore the trails and enjoy the tranquility of April. The weather is warm now, the boats fall into the sea, along with the first swimmers. Easter is here with the locals keeping the custom and fire the ovens to bake the traditional saffron cheesepie, the honeysuckles and the goat for the feast of the Resurrection Night. On the afternoon of Lambri (The Resurrection Day), the square of Agios Nikolaos is flooded with people, eager to punish Judas. The Monastery of Zoodochou Pigi completes the festive atmosphere by attracting visitors to the surrounding islands for the festival.
The blossomed earth invites the girls to knit the wreath of May, “bait” for the young boys who will steal it as a sign of love. Famous visitors of the island arrive and the phrase “Toga kala!” marks the start of the season. During the warm evenings many prepare the local products (caper leaves, oregano, thyme) and the main topic are the forecasts for the summer movement and the results of the first harvest of flower honey.
In the mornings of June more and more friends of the island get off the boat and give life to the alleys of Chora and the paths of the countryside. The temperature is rising and on the beaches the clothes are decreasing, in some they are not disappearing (!). The gardens are full of katsounia (small cucumbers), tomatoes and other vegetables that are meant to make tastier the traditional dishes served at the taverns.
The breeze of July transmits the smell of thyme causing the inhabitants to collect it like bees in order to be on the shelves of the shops along with other local products. The traffic is increasing while some lucky will come across a music event of the Municipality or a festival in the countryside such as Profitis Ilias and Agios Panteleimon.
August nights, and everyone has now become a group in the alleys and squares. All the houses are open and at night they offer a special spectacle with the lights of their balconies. Old and new visitors have flooded the island, leaving fewer and fewer hours of rest for locals who are willing to serve them. Every day there is a celebration, and if one has taken care to find a room, they will enjoy the established cultural events of the association of Anafi’s islanders, “Argonautika”. Summer is coming to its end and the harbor is full of visitors with bags of local products such as thyme, honey, capers and herbs.
The farewell handkerchiefs make their appearance, the ship sails and sitting in the cape you are bidding farewell to those who leave … We stay at Anafi!